15 10 2012
STU Reviews
Where Fredericton follows theatre.
Hilda’s Yard as an entryway

by Shelby White

Norm Foster’s Hilda’s Yard is a show worth jumping over the fence to watch. From the beginning to the end it is filled with hilarity, with a minor (but important) bit of seriousness in the depths of the laughter.

The show begins with Hilda (Patricia Vanstone) talking to her supposed neighbour, Mrs. Lidstrom, who we later find out is about as present as Hilda’s mind allows. Hilda and her husband Sam (Sam Rosenthal) are excited to finally have the house to themselves for a change when their fence suddenly becomes an entryway back into their solitude. The day only gets more chaotic from there.

The cast of TNB’s Hilda’s Yard by Norm Foster: (l-r) Patricia Vanstone, Jane Spence, Jonathan Gould, Gord Gammie, Sam Rosenthal, Perrie Olthuis. Directed by Caleb Marshall. .

The actors all do a great job of portraying a family unit that just can’t seem to come unglued, no matter how much the parents may want the kids out of the house. Gary (Jonathan Gould) is an over-actor and an under-thinker. He gets himself into trouble with gambling debts and comes home to “lay-low” for a while. Gould does fantastic work depicting a young adult with a one-track mind set in the 1950’s. We see this when Gary proposes to Bobbi (Jane Spence) after only two weeks of knowing her. You can still see the admiration in his eyes, even after she says no and they go back to being lovey-dovey.

Janey (Perrie Olthuis) does an equally expressive job of showing a young woman growing up to learn that all that glitters might not be gold—unless it comes in a travel agency. Olthuis’s Janey is very expressive, as she screams the majority of her lines after being frustrated with “endless inquisition.” Olthuis projects a female who bounces from being captivated by one man to the next within minutes through basic flattery. Janey learns the hard way, though, that not all men that will captivate you will be truly respectable.

Rosenthal also does a true depiction of a father just trying to hold it all together under what seems like endless anxiety. When Sam deals with Janey’s problem with her husband, he becomes a character we have an aversion to, but he learns the error of his ways in the end and his expressions during that moment make us truly appreciate not only “Sam” the character, but Sam the actor as well.

A fan favourite, Hilda steals our hearts. She plays her character perfectly and makes us laugh through the entire production. From her range of jokes to her caring tendencies, she expresses every word to a tee. When Beverly (Gord Gammey) and Gary are about to jump the fence to beat up Janey’s husband, Duncan, Hilda has her best line: “You’re being foolish … we have a front door.”

In the end, the play keeps you laughing when it’s meant to, and truly feeling for the characters when it’s called for. An excellent job is shown, from the actors’ use of the whole stage to the fact that they jump over the fence to accommodate Patrick Clark’s domestic setting. Director and Producer Caleb Marshall knew what he was doing when he put this production together.